Showing posts with label Bernie Sanders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bernie Sanders. Show all posts

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Someone needs to wake George Will and tell him Ronald Reagan is dead

They tell the story in England of a British politician who dreamt he was addressing the House of Lords. When he awakened, he found that indeed he was!

Today I read the Review section in the Sunday Times and the Opinion section of my local newspaper. I had the feeling all the political pundits are asleep or that they're living in the 1980s.  In the Times, Timothy Egan wrote a rambling and largely incoherent essay about Bernie Sanders. Egan said Bernie's plan for a free college education and universal health care "are no more thought out than a bumper sticker."

Egan's observations are so false as to be almost libelous. Sanders' health care plan and his higher-education proposal are quite sound, and both are less expensive and more egalitarian than Obamacare and our federal student-loan nightmare.

In my local paper, George Will dismissed the rise of Trump and Sanders as "political silliness," and lumped them both with the simplistic socialist politicians of Great Britain.  Will  derided supporters of both candidates, calling them Trumpkins and Sandernistas.

I am astonished by the near unanimity among political columnists on both the right and the left regarding the upcoming presidential election. Almost with one voice, they ridicule both Trump and Sanders--basically implying by their arguments that Americans would be better off if Crooked Hillary became President

Some write from a conservative perspective and some call themselves liberals, but almost all of them share one thing in common--their columns appear under photographs of themselves that are about 20 years out of date.

Indeed all these people are from another era--from a time when the oligarchs had Americans convinced that our politicians were aligned into two political parties based on political principles. But of course we all know now that the Democratic-Republican divide was a charade--just a puppet show to amuse the rubes while politicians on both sides of the aisle lined their own pockets.

But the saps woke up. Some threw their support behind Trump, and some went to Sanders. Now the media elites are hysterical, writing mad drivel that cannot be identified by ideology. Froma Harrop insinuates Bernie Sanders is a racist, and Bill O'Reilly ridicules Bernie as doddering Socialist. Or is the other way around?

All these people--Froma Harrop, George Will, Timothy Egan, Frank Bruni, Steve and Cokie Roberts, Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, etc.--need to  wake up and join the 21st century. The peasants are rising, and their fury will not be assuaged by stale prose written by people who come across like eccentric  nursing-home inmates writing letters to the local newspaper.

Image result for george will images
I hate to break it to you, George, but Ronald Reagan is dead.

References

Timothy Egan. Bernie's Last Stand. New York Times, June 5, 2016, Review Section, p. 2. Accessible at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/05/opinion/sunday/bernies-last-stand.html?_r=0

George Will. Britain, too, is infected with political silliness. Baton Rouge Advocate, June 5, 2016, p. 7B. Also accessible in the Washington Post at https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/britain-too-is-infected-with-political-silliness/2016/06/03/77560a20-28e8-11e6-b989-4e5479715b54_story.html







Saturday, June 4, 2016

Nearly 95 million Americans aren't working: The government's unemployment rate is just a bullshit number

During the First World War, it is said. the British military kept three separate casualty lists: one list to deceive the public, a second list to deceive the War Office, and a third list to deceive itself.

We could say much the same thing about the government's official unemployment rate.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) claims the nation's unemployment rate is only 4.7 percent, less than half the rate in Europe and about half what it was when Obama came into office.  "We cut unemployment in half, years before a lot of economists thought we could," President Obama boasted recently to a crowd in Indiana.

The BLS unemployment rate is just a bullshit number

But nobody believes that. Everyone knows the government's official unemployment rate is just a bullshit number.

Even the government admits the unemployment rate is higher if we include people who are working part-time involuntarily and the people who have given up looking for work. But including those people in the analysis still understates how bad the employment situation is.

In fact, when we ponder how many American adults are simply not working, we get a clearer understanding of the employment picture.  A few days ago, BLS reported that 94,708,000 American adults are not in the labor force--37 percent of the entire American adult population.

Of course, not all of these people are unemployed. Millions are retired, millions are pursuing post-secondary education, and millions are not working  because they are disabled and receiving disability benefits. Obviously, not all non-working Americans are suffering.

But a lot of non-working Americans are suffering. Millions of Americans are unemployed or underemployed, millions gave up looking for work and elected to take early retirement at reduced benefits. And there are millions who are still in the labor force but are working at substandard wages, including a lot of college graduates who hold jobs that don't require a college degree.

Signs of economic decline are everywhere

Although Obama takes credit for leading the nation out of the 2008 recession, the standard of living for millions of Americans continues to decline.  As the Brooking Institution paper noted in 2012, median wages for male workers have gone down precipitously in recent years.  In constant dollars, median wages for American men have slipped  by 19 percent since 1970.

Although the Obama administration insists that the economy is creating new jobs, that's probably bullshit as well. BLS reported last week that 38,000 new jobs came on line in May, a dramatic decline from an average of 178,000 a month over the first three months of 2016.  But a Brookings analysis, using a different form of measurement, claims the economy actually lost 4,000 jobs last month.

 And more and more people are on food stamps--1 out of 7 Americans are now receiving food-stamp assistance. That's 45 million people--up from around 28 million when Obama took office.  Do these numbers suggest that the economy is in recovery?

And then there's the student-loan crisis

And then there's the student loan crisis.  Approximately 43 million Americans owe 1.3 trillion in student-loan debt.  Although  the Department of Education's three-year default rate is only around 10 percent, that's just more bullshit.  By encouraging people to obtain economic hardship deferments, the government has artificially kept default rates down, because people with deferments aren't counted as defaulters even though they aren't making loan payments.

But of course people who accepted deferments are seeing their loan balances go up because interest continues to accrue. Now the only way they can service their loans is by signing up for 20-year income-base repayment plans.

The true student-loan default rate is probably 25 percent; and it's 50 percent for people who took out loans to attend for-profit colleges. And even this estimate may be too low.

Millions of Americans are suffering and they're  foaming with rage

In short, millions of Americans are suffering. They know the economy is deteriorating; they know their standard of living is going down. They know Barack Obama despises ordinary Americans--the poor stiffs who live in fly-over country and still go to church on Sundays.

And ordinary Americans are foaming with rage.

The political and media elites think they can keep a lid on all this anger, that they can persuade a majority of Americans to vote for Hillary and prolong the status quo. They think Americans are listening to Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon when they paint Trump as a racist and a bigot on CNN. They think columnist Froma Harrop will persuade her readers that Bernie Sanders is a racist.

But I've got news for the elites. The people who are angry aren't listening to CNN. They aren't reading Froma Harrop. The elites may succeed in crowning Hillary Clinton as the next queen of post-modern America, but the pundits will never tamp this anger down. It's real, it's ugly, and it's permanent.







References

Alan Bjerga. Food Stamps Still Feed One in Seven Americans Despite RecoveryBloomberg News, February 3, 2016. Accessible at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-03/food-stamps-still-feed-one-in-seven-americans-despite-recovery

Christopher Goins, 44.7 Million Americans Now on Food Stamps--More than at Any Time Under Bush, CNS News, February 3, 2012. Accessible at http://cnsnews.com/news/article/447-million-americans-now-food-stamps-more-any-time-under-bush

 Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney. The Uncomfortable Truth About American Wages. Brooking Institution, October 23, 2012. Accessible at http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2012/10/22-wages-greenstone-looney

Susan Jones, Record 94,708,000 Americans Not in Labor Force; Participation Rate Drops in May. CNS News, June 3, 2016. Accessible at http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/record-94708000-americans-not-labor-force-participation-rate-drops

Matthew Boesler. More College Grads Finding Work, But Not in the Best Jobs. Bloomberg.com, April 7, 2016. Accessible at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-07/more-college-grads-finding-work-but-not-in-the-best-jobs

Nicholas Wells and Mark Fahey. What's the REAL unemloyment rate? CNBC.com, January 8, 2016. Accessible at http://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/08/

Jonathan Wright. Amidst unimpressive official jobs report for May, alternative measure make little difference. Brookings Institution, June 3, 2016. Accessible at http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/jobs/posts/2016/06/03-amidst-unimpressive-official-jobs-report-for-may-alternative-measures-wright?utm_campaign=Brookings+Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=30258460&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8wODcWxeX-Vo8PGswc2439RPH_hV1yCM05S_knJvJmuSfYUbz-xh1mWd76dc0m2GG5fhL55iubJxPERM_sbHc3qH5Hfg&_hsmi=30258460

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Barney Frank, World Class Sleaze, Accuses Bernie Sanders of McCarthyism

Barney Frank, former Congressman from Massachusetts, will be one of Hillary Clinton's Super Delegates at the Democratic Convention. Indeed, Frank is on the Convention's Platform  Committee. That fact that Barney Frank is a Hillary partisan is reason enough to be a Bernie Sanders supporter.

Most people have forgotten that Barney Frank paid for sex with a male prostitute, hired the guy to be a personal assistant and then turned a blind eye while the prostitute ran a prostitution ring out of Frank's apartment.  (Frank claimed he did not know his apartment was being used for prostitution, and he may have been telling the truth.) And all of this while Frank represented the state of Massachusetts in Congress. The House of Representatives reprimanded Frank, not for hiring a prostitute, but for writing a misleading letter to the prostitute's probation officer. Oh yes. And Frank used his congressional privilege to fix more than 30 of the prostitute's parking tickets

You don't have to believe me.  Read about it in the New York Times and other respected newspapers.

Frank was on the House Financial Services Committee in 2005, when he downplayed concerns about the bubble in the housing industry. Millions of Americans suffered losses in the financial downturn of 2008, but not Frank. As  Liz Peak  reported in 2011, Frank did quite well during the financial crisis and retired from Congress comfortably fixed: 
As a steward of the nation’s purse during the financial crisis Mr. Frank may not have succeeded, but he did quite well personally. Unusually, Mr. Frank’s personal finances sailed right through the downturn. In 2006 he reported assets valued between $525,020 and $1.6 million; by 2010 Mr. Franks’ net worth had soared to between $1.9 million and $4.6 million, with nary a down year in between. No wonder he can afford to retire. 
 And now Frank, speaking as a Super Delegate for Hillary Clinton, has the effrontery to accuse Bernie Sanders--the only decent person left in the presidential race--of McCarthyism!

Barney Frank is one of roughly 400 Democratic Party insiders who have profited from politics while the American economy spirals downward. And Frank's vote as a Super Delegate is worth more than a coal miner's vote in the West Virginia primary or a Walmart clerk's vote in the Oklahoma primary.

The media elites--all self-proclaimed progressives--have closed their eyes to Hillary's cronyism and self-dealing and have thrown their support to Bernie's opponent.

But I have a message for all Hillary's media lap dogs who are disparaging Bernie Sanders--Frank Bruni, Froma Harrop, Cokie and Steve Roberts, etc. etc. etc. Hillary Clinton will not be the next president of the United States.  And the public will remember the journalists who were confronted with a choice between sleaze and decency during the 2016 presidential campaign and who chose to support sleaze.


Barney Frank's quarter century in Congress was interrupted by a scandal that would have buried other men. But this openly gay congressman, who has one of the fiercest wits and sharpest minds on Capitol Hill, remains a force to be reckoned with.
Barney Frank, a Hillary Super Delegate, Accuses Bernie Sanders of McCarthyism

  
References

 Allan Gold. Frank Acknowledges Hiring Male Prostitute as Personal Aide. New York Times, August 25, 1989. Accessible at http://www.nytimes.com/1989/08/26/us/rep-frank-acknowledges-hiring-male-prostitute-as-personal-aide.html?pagewanted=all

Mark Finkelstein. Hillary Fan Barney Frank Accuses of Bernie Sanders of 'McCarthyism."MRC Newsbusters, April 6, 2016. Accessible at http://newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/mark-finkelstein/2016/04/06/hillary-fan-barney-frank-accuses-bernie-sanders-mccarthyism

Froma Harrop, Bernie Sanders and Racism Lite. Seattle Times, May 19, 2016. Accessible at http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/bernie-sanders-and-racism-lite/

Frances Romero. Sinful Statesman Barney FrankTime Magazine, June 8, 2011. Accessible at http://content.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1721111_1721210_1883878,00.html

A Timeline of Politicians and Prostitutes. U.S. News & World Report, March 11, 2008. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2008/03/11/a-timeline-of-politicians-and-prostitutes

Liz Peek. Barney Frank Won't Have To Worry About Money In Retirement. Fox News, December 2, 2011. Accessible at http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/12/02/barney-frank-wont-have-to-worry-about-money-in-retirement.html

Cokie and Steve Roberts. Bernie Sanders plays a dangerous game. Baton Rouge Advocate, May 30, 2016, p. 5B.  Also accessible at  http://kpcnews.com/opinions/other_columnists/kpcnews/article_ac1c34ff-ce96-5376-89c8-26841b44436a.html

Monday, May 23, 2016

Froma Harrop insinuates that Bernie Sanders is a racist: Is Froma pimping for Hillary?

The media elite are furious that Bernie Sanders won't go away and that he continues to win primary elections. And some journalists have resorted to making wild accusations about Sanders and his campaign.

Froma Harrop's piece, which appeared last week, is particularly nasty. Appearing under a headline entitled "Bernie Sanders and Racism Lite,' Harrop insinuated that Bernie's campaign is associated with racism. She even accused "Sanders' white posses" of "invading campaign events of other presidential contenders, including Donald Trump rallies. But Harrop cited no evidence to support such a charge.

The liberal media can't have it both ways. Most liberal commentators argue that Trump's rallies are disrupted because Trump incites violence by his message and tone. But now Harrop suggests that it is those nasty Bernie supporters who are causing all the ruckus.

She also cynically interpreted Bernie's observation that his rallies were largely peaceful even when held in "high crime areas."  According to Harrop, "high crime areas" is a veiled reference to African American neighborhoods.

Harrop admits--as she must--that Bernie has a "staunch civil rights record." Indeed, Bernie was arrested in 1963 for participating in a civil rights protest against segregated schools in Chicago; and he was active in the Congress On Race Equality (CORE) during the 1960s. Does Hillary have a comparable civil rights record? No, she does not.

Perhaps the most ridiculous part of Harrop's hatchet job on Bernie was her insinuation that he moved to Vermont, which she described as "the whitest state in the nation," for racist reasons. Vermont, Harrop confides, "had become a safe haven for liberals leaving--the word then was 'fleeing'--the cities."

What a pile of horse manure! A great many states have low minority populations--Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Vermont, Maine. Is Harrop suggesting that people who move to those states are a bunch of racists? If that's true, then pack me to a re-education camp because I lived in Alaska for nine years during the 1980s.

In my view, Harrop is one of a band of panting puppies eager to assist Hillary Clinton clinch the Democratic presidential nomination by denigrating Bernie Sanders--the only genuinely decent candidate left in the race. Cokie and Steve Roberts performed a similar service for Hillary in an op ed essay as did Frank Bruni of the New York Times, who suggested that Bernie was a sore loser because he didn't drop out of the race for president.

But it is the liberal media elites who are the sore losers. And what they have lost is the public's respect for their journalistic integrity. And that's why millions of Americans have decided to think for themselves during this election cycle instead of allowing CNN, the New York Times, and journalistic lap dogs like Froma Harrop to do their thinking for them.

I hate to break the news to you, Froma, but a lot of Americans find Hillary totally unacceptable as a president; and insinuating that Bernie is a racist is not the way to persuade Americans to change their minds.

Who is that guy?
References

Frank Bruni. The Cult of Sore Losers. New York Times, April 26, 2016. Accessible at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/27/opinion/the-cult-of-sore-losers.html?_r=0

Froma Harrop. Bernie Sanders and Racism Lite. Seattle Times, May 19, 2016. Accessible at http://www.seattletimes.com/author/froma-harrop/

Tim Murphy. Here's What Bernie Sanders Actually Did In the Civil Rights Movement. Mother Jones, February 11, 2016. Accessible at http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/bernie-sanders-core-university-chicago



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Vermont lawmakers urge Congress to lift bankruptcy restrictions for distressed college-loan borrowers: Bernie Sanders, here's your cue!

Earlier this week, the Vermont House of Representatives adopted a resolution urging Congress to allow distressed student-loan borrowers to file for bankruptcy without restriction. In effect, the Vermont lawmakers asked Congress to repeal the "undue hardship" provision of the Bankruptcy Code.

The measure had broad support among Vermont legislators.  The resolution was sponsored by more than 70 of  the Vermont House's 150 representatives.

This is an amazing development. Everyone knows the federal student loan program is in crisis and that millions of college-loan borrowers are burdened by massive debt they can't pay back. Congress won't do anything about it because our federal legislators have been bought off by the college industry and the banks. Now we have a state legislative body asking for bankruptcy relief.

Joint House Resolution 27, as the Vermont resolution is titled, is remarkable for its clarity.  As the resolution stated: "27 million borrowers are either in default or some other form of loan repayment delinquency . . . "  Moreover, the Vermont legislators pointed out, plans to reduce interest rates or restructure the student loan program might be helpful to future borrowers, but these proposals do nothing to help people who are suffering right now.

I hope other state legislatures across the United States will follow the lead of the Vermont House of Representatives and call for the elimination of bankruptcy restrictions for desperate college-loan borrowers.  Multiple state-level legislative resolutions would put huge pressure on Congress to quit doing the bidding of the college industry and amend the Bankruptcy Code.

And here is an opening for Bernie Sanders.  If he would endorse Joint House Resolution 27 and call for a reform of the Bankruptcy Code, he would attract even more voters.  At the very least, Bernie's endorsement might force Hillary Clinton to endorse Resolution 27 as well.  So far, her only plan for reforming the federal student loan program is to shovel more money toward the inefficient, corrupt, and venal higher education industry.

Hooray for the state legislators in Vermont.  Bernie, please jump on board. The time for action is now.

Vermont lawmakers urge Congress to lift restrictions on bankruptcy for student-loan borrowers

References

Micahel Bielawski. Vermont House asks Congress to let student-loan borrowers file for bankruptcy. VermongtWatchdog.org, May 3, 2016.  Accessible at http://watchdog.org/264079/legislature-requests-student-debt-relief-bankruptcy/

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Paul Krugman ranks Hillary as best presidential candidate to handle an economic crisis: Why am I not surprised that Krugman ignored Bernie?

In 1928, Myles Connolly (1897-1964), wrote a brilliant Catholic novella entitled Mr. Blue. The title character is a sort of modern-day St. Francis who delivers a series of zingers about secular American culture. Books, Mr. Blue observes at one point in the narrative, are for people who have already made up their minds or have no minds to make up.

We might say much the same thing about the New York Times.  Day after day it dishes out its so-called "progressive" drivel, lecturing the whole world on how to behave--from the North Carolina legislature to Vladimir Putin.  Without a doubt, the Times is the publication of choice for people who have already made up their minds or are totally incapable of doing their own thinking.

So I was not surprised to read Paul Krugman's recent op ed essay in the Times arguing that Hillary Clinton would be the best President to deal with a major economic crisis.  Although he purported to make logical arguments, Krugman was totally dismissive of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. "The Donald doesn't know much," Krugman sneered contemptuously, "but Ted Cruz knows a lot that isn't so" (stealing a line from Mark Twain).

Krugman essentially writes the same essay over and over, for which the Times compensates him handsomely. Day after day, he assures his idiot readers that Barack Obama does everything right and that massive deficit spending is the smartest way to manage the American economy.  And now of course he lavishes the same fawning praise on Hillary Clinton that he slathered on Obama for the last eight years.

Normally, I wouldn't comment on Krugman's screeds, but his latest piece on Hillary deserves a response.  First of all, although Krugman expressed utter contempt for Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in his essay about presidential qualifications, he didn't even mention Bernie Sanders, the only presidential candidate who has articulated a coherent and principled economic policy.

I feel sure Krugman's omission was intentional. Ignoring Bernie was Krugman's insinuating way of suggesting that Bernie is such a minor political figure that he doesn't even deserve comment. After all, Krugman doesn't dare offend Hillary in the slightest way by giving even an iota of credibility to her dogged opponent.

Second, Krugman basically acknowledged that a major economic crisis is coming to the United States. But look at where he predicts it will come from. "China has a severely unbalanced economy," he tells us, and there's also a potential for an oil crisis.

Basically, Krugman is already laying the groundwork for putting the blame for the next economic crisis on forces outside President Obama's control.

What sophistry! Americans have some pretty good ideas about where the next economic storm is coming from, and they didn't need a Nobel Prize in Economics to figure it out. Here are some things to worry about that Krugman did not bother to mention:

  • Radical Islam. Jihadists from the Middle East are brutal nihilists who will do anything to destroy what we once charmingly called Western Civilization. If they get the capacity to deliver a cyber attack on our global financial network, they will certainly launch one. If they can figure out a way to inflict massive casualties on American civilians, they will certainly do it. 
  • The collapse of the European Union under the relentless tide of Islamic refugees, which could trigger a fascist backlash as Europeans see the erosion of their ancient cultures.
  • A global financial crisis caused by chicanery and greed in the international banking industry.
  • War between Israel and Iran, which will soon be a nuclear power.
  • The destruction of the American middle class as American working people are sacrificed to satiate the greed of  the global oligarchs and young people are suffocated by student-loan debt they acquired to obtain worthless undergraduate and professional degrees.
Krugman did not mention any of these possible scenarios--scenarios that keep Americans up at night-- because a catastrophe from any of these sources could be fairly blamed at least partly on President Obama--the liberal elite's Sun King. 

So keep reading Paul Krugman if you believe the political, academic and media elites know what's best for us or if you are so intellectually lazy that you want someone else to do your thinking. After all, that's exactly what the Times and its columnists are there for--to do your thinking for you.

Image result for paul krugman
Paul Krugman: Bernie who?


References

Paul Krugman. The 8 A.M. Call. New York Times, April 25, 2016.  Accessible at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/25/opinion/the-8-am-call.html?_r=0















Monday, April 25, 2016

Cokie & Steve Roberts urge Bernie to take a fall for Hillary: Old croakers with outmoded ideas about what is good for America

Cokie and Steve Roberts published an op ed essay today urging Bernie Sanders to back off on his presidential campaign so he won't hurt Hillary Clinton's chances of beating Donald Trump in November.

"If you want to stay in the race to propound your policy ideas, fine," the Roberts couple counseled Bernie. "But don't keep undercutting the one candidate who can save the party--and the country--from a President Trump."

I read the Roberts' op ed essay in the Baton Rouge Advocate, where it appeared under a photo of Cokie and Steve looking like they are in their 40s. But Cokie is 72 years old,and Steve is 73! Frankly, their ideas are as outmoded as their media photos.

In essence, the Roberts are arguing that Bernie should either get out of the presidential race or tone down his energy so that Hillary will be assured of beating Donald Trump.  Indeed, they are pointedly urging him to take fall for Hillary in order to save the Democratic Party.

But most Bernie supporters don't want to save the Democratic Party if it means propping up a corrupt gang of cronies and insiders who are all beholden to the corporate interests. I for one don't give a damn about the Democratic Party. I registered as a Democrat for the first time in December for no other reason than to vote for Bernie in the Louisiana Democratic primary.

The Roberts also urge Bernie to get out of the race or take a powder so that Hillary will be in a stronger position to beat Donald Trump in the fall. But many Bernie supporters don't see Hillary as an improvement over Trump. The Roberts themselves admit in their op ed essay that only 19 percent of voters think Hillary is honest. Even among Democrats, only 40 percent of Democratic voters trust her.

Donald Trump has big negatives for sure. But his negatives are going down in the polls, and Hillary's are going up. I predict by September, about the same percentage of Americans will find both candidates odious.

Cokie and Steve don't realize that the United States has changed. Establishment politics is totally unacceptable to a great many Americans--particularly young Americans. If it is a choice between the Donster and Crooked Hillary, millions of fair-minded progressive American voters will have a great deal of trouble deciding which candidate is the lesser of two evils.


Cokie and Steve want Bernie to take a fall for Hillary

References

Cokie & Steve Roberts. For party's sake, time for Sanders to back off. Baton Rouge Advocate, April 25, 2016, p. 5B. Online version of essay accessible at http://www.uexpress.com/cokie-and-steven-roberts/2016/4/20/time-for-bernie-to-back-off


The student-loan crisis and Presidential politics: Bernie needs to up his game on student loans to attract young votes

Bernie is very popular with young voters. He out polled Hillary by almost 4 to 1 among the twenty-somethings in the New York Democratic primary, and he's done even better with young voters in other primaries. Young people sense almost instinctively that Hillary is just a political hack, and that Bernie has ideas that might really make their lives better.

In fact, Bernie is the only presidential candidate to offer a realistic plan to address the student-loan crisis, which is crushing millions of Americans. Bernie's plan for a free college education at a public college is eminently sensible, and cheaper than what we are doing now, which is to loan $165 billion a year to college students and only get about half of it back.

In contrast, Hillary's student-loan reform plan is to pump an additional $30 billion a year into the nation's bloated and corrupt higher education industry.  That's Hillary's solution to every problem--let's shovel some money at it and make sure the insiders get most of the loot.

And let's not forget that Hillary tweeted young voters last summer, asking them; "How does your student loan debt make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less." Let's see if I can find three profane emojis to send her.

And Cruz is no friend to student-loan debtors. He represented the lender in the famous Espinoza case, in which a bankrupt baggage handler argued that he should only be required to pay back the principal on his debt and should be relieved of the accrued interest.

Espinoza's argument was very reasonable; after all it is the accrued interest and penalties that are crushing most distressed student-loan borrowers--not the amount they actually borrowed. But Cruz's client prevailed before the Supreme Court--a 9 to 0 decision against poor Mr. Espinoza.

So if you are one of 20 million overwhelmed student-loan debtors, Bernie is the only game in town.  Unfortunately, you and I know that Bernie's free-college plan will never be enacted, because too many political interests benefit from the status quo.

But there are other student-loan reforms Bernie could propose that are less ambitious than his free-college plan but which would resonate with young voters.  Here are a few ideas for him:

1) Let's force the for-profit colleges to stop making their students sign arbitration agreements that cut off students' right to sue for fraud.  DOE Secretary John B. King favors regulations to stop colleges from putting arbitration clauses in their student contracts. Bernie could reasonably support King's efforts.

2) The government could require all loan servicers--including Educational Credit Management Corporation and Navient--to disclose the compensation packets for their senior executives and their debt collectors and to disclose on a public web site the amount they pay their lobbyists, the attorneys who hound student-loan debtors, and the recipients of all their campaign contributions.

3) The government could stop garnish Social Security checks of elderly college-loan borrowers who defaulted on their loans. This is a logical extension of the Obama administration's decision to forgive loans of disabled borrowers.

I think if Bernie would add a just couple of additional features to his plan to solve the student-loan crisis, he would see an even bigger surge of support among young voters--maybe enough of a surge to assure a victory in California.

And of course my ideas for appealing to young voters are open to any of the Presidential candidates: Hillary, Cruz, Kasich and Trump could take these ideas and run with them. But Bernie is the only presidential candidate who shows any interest in solving the student -loan crisis.

Ted Cruz: No friend of student-loan debtors

Image result for hillary clinton emoji
How does Hillary's emoji on student loans make you feel?

References

United Student Aid Funds, Inc. v. Espinosa, 130 S.Ct. 1367 (2010).


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Bernie needs a campaign theme song! I recommend "My Wife Thinks You're Dead" by Junior Brown

The New York Democratic Primary confirms a suspicion I've held for a long time: New Yorkers are not as smart as they think they are. A million of 'em voted for Hillary--incredible! No doubt thousands of Hillary supporters have fancy degrees from places like Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, and Yale. And that confirms another suspicion of mine: Ivy Leaguers aren't as smart as they think they are either.

But the New York Democratic primaries are over, and Bernie's supporters must keep moving forward. Or as they say in Oklahoma, it is not yet time to call the dogs home and douse the campfire.

But I do think Bernie's campaign could use a little extra juice right now.  I think he needs a campaign theme song--something like Louisiana Governor Jimmy Davis's signature song: "You Are My Sunshine," which Governor Davis wrote.

Somehow I don't think Bernie is a song writer, so he will need to adopt something already written. Here's my vote for Bernie's campaign theme song: "My Wife Thinks You're Dead," written and sung by Junior Brown.

I'm posting some of the lyrics to this great song, which I modified a bit. Please go online, listen to Junior Brown's version, and then, if you agree, contact Bernie's campaign headquarters and let Bernie's team know you support me on this.  Don't let me down. This is important!

My Wife Thinks You're Dead

It's good to see you [Hillary] it's been a long long while
We're both a whole lot older and seen a lot of miles
But thing are different now since the good ol days
And you've been in some trouble
Since we went our separate ways
We'll have to say hello maybe some other time instead
Cause you're wanted by the police
And my wife thinks you're dead.

Somebody spread the rumor that you had lost your life
Least that's the way I heard it and what I told my wife
Now here you're showing up again and talk is getting round
And I can see that one of us will have to leave this town
If you think that I want trouble
Than you're crazy in your head
Cause you're wanted by the police
And my wife thinks you're dead.



Image result for "junior brown"
Junior Brown: "My wife thinks you're dead."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hillary cackles over her victory in the New York Democratic Primary: But the Upstate rubes went for Bernie

If you go to a map depicting how New York Democrats voted in yesterday's Democratic primary election, you will be shocked. At first blush, it looks like Bernie Sanders won a landslide victory. In fact, with the exception of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Long Island and New York City and its nearby suburbs, Bernie carried the whole state.

A  view of a map showing voting patterns in the Massachusett Democratic primary shows a similar pattern. Eastern Massachusetts--Boston and its  affluent suburbs--went for Hillary and the western part of the state voted overwhelmingly for Bernie.

Of course this pattern is easily explained. Most voters live in the cities, and a lot of city people like Hillary.

But why is this so? Why do the voters of Boston and New York City support Hillary while the rural and small town folks back Bernie?

Basically, the people who have prospered in the global economy are urbanites. People in banking and financial services, the media elites, academics, techies and entertainment moguls have done pretty well in the 21st century economy, and they know Hillary will maintain the status quo. Her fans aren't offended by the fact that she compulsively stuffs corporate money into her pants suit because they are doing the same thing.

On the other hand, Americans in the nation's small towns and rural areas are hurting economically; and they are hurting badly. Bernie's straightforward message about economic reform resonates with these people. Even in Oklahoma, perhaps the most conservative state in the Union, Democrats voted overwhelmingly for Bernie with the exception of voters living in two affluent urban clusters. Having grown up in Oklahoma, I can tell you, the Okies are suffering in the post-recession economy. The word socialist does not frighten them at all.

I don't think Hillary cares whether the rubes like her. She thinks she's holding all the cards. But there are more poor people in the U.S. than rich ones. And there are millions of people who aren't poor now but soon will be--including 20 million people who can't pay off their student loans.

If more poor people wake up the fact that Hillary is just a huckster--a shill for the global oligarchs--they will look for someone else to vote for. But Hillary is counting on sliding into the Oval Office before the rubes figure out that the game is rigged against them and that Hillary helped rig it.

New York Democratic Primary: The brown splotches went for Hillary



Oklahoma Democratic Primary: The brown splotches went for HIllary
Ditto for Massachusetts

Karen Blumenthal, Hillary's Biographer, Insults the Intelligence of Young American Women by Calling Them Naive For Supporting Bernie

Last night, as I was driving home across the Atchafalaya Basin, I listened on my radio to a BBC interview with Karen Blumenthal, Hillary Clinton's biographer. The BBC reporter asked Blumenthal to explain why the vast majority of young American women who were voting in Democratic primaries were supporting Bernie Sanders for President, and not Hillary.

Blumenthal admitted that she was mystified by this trend. And then she added that young female Bernie supporters were "naive" and lacked a proper appreciation of Hillary's record in the fight to advance women's rights.

How insulting to young American women!

Essentially, Blumenthal was expressing the same view as the two old crones Hillary wheeled out to scold young American women a few months ago: Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem. Remember Albright's famous quote? "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other."

In my view, young women who support Bernie are not naive. On the contrary, a lot of them are politically quite sophisticated.They know Hillary is totally indifferent to the concerns of young Americans and that's why they are voting for Bernie.

They know, for example, that Hillary's campaign slogan, "Fighting for Us," is nothing more than a bald misrepresentation concocted by Hillary's spin doctors.  Hillary isn't fighting for us; who could believe such a wild story? After all, she sat on Walmart's board of directors for six years, and she made $11 million in less than two years making speeches to corporate pirates.  Last year alone, Hillary and Bill raked in $28 million; that's 100 times more than Bernie and Jane Sanders' income in 2014.

Second, young voters know Hillary will do nothing to alleviate the student-loan crisis. In fact, Hillary's only plan for addressing this enormous problem is to shovel more money toward the bloated and corrupt higher education industry. If elected President, she won't rein in the for-profit college industry, which has exploited millions of young Americans.She accepted nearly a quarter of a million dollars from a for-profit education corporation for making a single speech. And another for-profit college company paid Hillary's husband Bill more than $16 million for serving as its "honorary chancellor."

Karen Blumenthal may dismiss Bernie's young supporters as naive, but it is Blumenthal herself who is naive if she thinks young American women need to wise up and support Hillary. In my opinion, these women will never support Hillary Clinton; and if Hillary is elected President, the Democratic Party will lose a whole generation of thoughtful and highly concerned young women voters--both men and women. After all, in last night's New York primary election, people in their 20s voted for Bernie over Hillary by a margin of nearly 4 to 1.


Karen Blumenthal,  doing her Hillary Clinton  imitation (in costume)
References

Katie Dreyer. How Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem Betrayed Women Everywhere. Huffington Post, February 8, 2015. Accessible at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katie-dreyer/madeleine-and-gloria-betrayed-women-everywhere_b_9190676.html

Chuck Ross. Madeleine Albright Tells Young Women Women Voters 'There's A Special Place In Hell' For Them If They Don't Support Hillary. Daily Caller, February 2, 2016. Accessible at
 http://dailycaller.com/2016/02/06/madeleine-albright-tells-young-women-voters-theres-a-special-place-in-hell-for-them-if-they-dont-support-hillary-video/#ixzz46NbEitok

Jonathan Swan. Sanders Wins Young Voters, Clinton Older Voters in NY Exit Polls. thehill.com, April 19, 2016. Accessible at http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/276924-sanders-wins-young-votes-clinton-older-voters-in-ny-exit